In 2010, a man donning a fedora and thick, black-framed glasses calling himself Hot Dog Mike started popping up around Central Arkansas with a modestly sized mobile hot dog cart and a fairly simple menu of all-beef storebought franks, basic condiments and generic buns. Somehow, he became one of the most hyped food purveyors in Little Rock. Not that his creations weren’t inventive and fun. There was the WooPigHotDog, with bacon, slaw, onion and barbecue sauce. TheCAPITALdog with cream cheese, relish and sport peppers. And there was Hot Dog Mike himself and his social media savvy, which helped propel him to Little Rock stardom.
Michael Juiliano, AKA Hot Dog Mike, amassed thousands of Twitter followers. He was interviewed by the evening news whenever he created new hot dog concoctions. His hot dogs were featured on the “Today Show” in 2011. In 2012, after a bidding war on Twitter, he sold four lobster topped dogs for $1,501 dollars a piece, breaking the world record for the most expensive hot dog ever sold. The $6,000 in proceeds were given to local homeless charity The One, Inc., the organization behind “The Van.”
In early 2013 he announced he was shutting down the cart and moving to New Jersey to take over the family business. He hosted a farewell tour titled “Until We Eat Again.” That didn’t last long. He returned to Little Rock a short time later and started a campaign on GoFundMe to raise money to open up a brick and mortar in the River Market. He was able to raise $11,000 and opened up a storefront location in November of 2013. A couple months later, he announced the business was closing. If you Google “Hot Dog Mike Little Rock” several articles appear: “The Ascendancy of Hot Dog Mike,” “A Frank Discussion on Hot Dog Mike,” “The Fall of the Hot Dog King,” which, justifiably, give side-eye to Mike’s bait-and-switch business trajectory, or which damn the food with faint praise, like “The hot dogs are fine.”
We reached out to Mike to see what he’s been up to and what kind of creations he’s come up with since his departure, but haven’t heard back yet. Mike’s return this weekend celebrates his ten year reunion (sort of).
Hot Dog Mike 10 Year Reunion coming soon to Little Rock Arkansas. Because 2020 didn't count. Stay tuned for details.
Now where did I put my hat? pic.twitter.com/4VXm5Qttgr
— Hot Dog Mike (@hotdog_mike) May 13, 2021
Proceeds from Mike’s return this weekend will benefit the Eli Talley Foundation for childhood cancer. Hot Dog Mike will be set up at Domestic Domestic in the Heights at 5501 Kavanaugh Boulevard from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. (ish) and 5 p.m.- 7 p.m. (ish) Friday, June 18 and Saturday, June 19.